Food Sales

  • Food Sales

    Associated Student Body & The Food Service/Cafeteria Program:

    The relationship of the ASB to a district’s food service/cafeteria program is often thought of as competitive, but in reality the two programs should work together because both benefit the same students. Food regulations are numerous and often confusing to student groups. Because the food service/cafeteria program must follow most of the same regulations, its staff should be considered experts and partners who can help ensure that any food or beverage sold by students meets nutritional requirements and complies with local, state and federal laws.

    Because student groups must follow specific rules, including those regarding noncompetitive sales and whether items can be prepared on site at the K-12 level, the food service/cafeteria program staff can help ensure that all sales are in compliance and that students are being served safely and correctly. These regulations were not developed by the food service/cafeteria program but are the result of legislation. If the laws are not followed, the district can be penalized with reduced funding to the food service/cafeteria program, which affects all of the district’s students. 

    Laws Governing K-12 Food Sales:

    Food sales are one of the most popular methods of fundraising, as well as one of the most regulated and complex in K-12 LEAs. The state and federal governments regulate food sales to protect the categorically-funded school nutrition programs and to help ensure good nutrition, which helps students learn. Beverages are considered food and are also subject to restrictions. Foods sold on campus but not as part of the school nutrition program are called ‘competitive foods’ as defined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 7, section 210.11.

    Education Code § 35182.5
    Limits the ability to sell non-nutritious foods and beverages, including soda, through exclusive or non-exclusive vending contracts. Districts must still abide by types of foods allowed to be sold and time frames for sales of non-compliant foods.
    Education Code § 49431 and 49431.2Authorizes the governing board to allow the ASB organization to sell food on school premises. This section also permits the governing board to allow other organizations, such as the PTA, to sell food on school premises.
    Education Code § 49431.5Limits sales of beverages in elementary and middle/junior high schools.
    Education Code § 49432Explains that all public schools may post a summary of nutrition and physical activity laws and regulations, and shall post the school district’s nutrition and physical activity policies, in public view in all school cafeterias or other central eating areas. The State Department of Education shall develop the summary of state law and regulations.
    CA Code of Regulations, Title 5, § 15500Limits food sales in elementary schools to one item per sale and four sales per year, with additional subsidiary restrictions on the time and nature of the food being sold.
    CA Code of Regulations, Title 5, § 15501Allows ASB organizations in junior high and high schools to sell food during or after school under the conditions outlined in this regulation.

    The California Department of Education maintains a comprehensive website with information related to food and beverage sales and has a variety of manuals, guidance and other resources to help educational 22 Associated Student Body Accounting Manual, Fraud Prevention Guide and Desk Reference agencies understand the many guidelines that must be followed. 

    Other helpful sites:

    Healthy Eating & Nutrition Education:
    Competitive Food and Beverages: 


    The California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division (NSD) in cooperation with California Project Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition (LEAN) is pleased to announce the launch of the California Competitive Foods Calculator.

    The CDE NSD provided technical assistance to develop this updated online tool funded by Project LEAN. The calculator integrates both California and federal competitive food rules into an easy-to-use online calculator. Any group or individual selling foods or beverages to students on a school campus during the school day can use this calculator to determine if an item meets the competitive food and beverage requirements. Please share this information with your district’s parent–teacher organizations, associated student bodies, and any other groups that sell competitive foods.

    To access the California Competitive Foods Calculator, please visit the CDE Competitive Food and Beverage Web page at compfoods.asp. Please see the attached for Project LEAN flyer more information on the new California Competitive Foods Calculator and an upcoming Webinar opportunity.

    If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the CDE Competitive Food and Beverage Team at

    Thank you.
    Nutrition Services Division
    California Department of Education

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